Early March, 2011 I had just completed treating the Hepatics C virus consisting of a grueling toxic drug regime that left me sick and immobile on the couch for 6 months. Once it was complete and I was gearing up to return to work, I decided to treat myself to a good pair of sports shoes and stepped into Fleet Feet Aptos for the first time.
It had been a long time since I had a proper shoe fitting and almost forgot how pampered it felt to place your foot on that wooden angled thing while a shoe got laced up. As I was about to place my foot up on the platform, I couldn’t help notice a piece of paper taped to it announcing a training program for a 5K race in the Forest of Nisene Marks. Nisene Marks? I LOVED that forest! Every time I went there something in me screamed to run and I’d take off full speed ahead, but after a few hundred feet I’d double over out of breath and discouraged. This 3 mile training sounded like just the thing I want to do! Sadly however, I was told the race was only two weeks away and I’d not be race-ready in time, BUT, I could sign up for the upcoming Wharf to Wharf race training. Wharf to Wharf? Wasn’t that 6 miles? Oh no, no, no, I thought, not 6 miles, heavens no! Yet the young man who just slipped my foot into the most comfortable pair of Nike’s I’d ever been in told me otherwise. He said I didn’t even have to run, I could walk it if I wanted to. In fact I could walk AND run, and the coaches would make sure I’d be ready, guaranteed. He suggested I attend an introductory talk that was happening in the store that following week to find out more about it, and I did.
I remember being nervous that night. First, I didn’t know anyone, and second felt awkward in an athletic store because I didn’t consider myself an “athlete”. However, all that soon fell away once Russ began speaking. I listened to the story about he and Tina got into running, how he used to smoke 3 packs of cigarettes a day and weigh 300 pounds, but now ran marathons. And he wasn’t pretentious about it or intimidating or pushy, he was just this normal guy who found a passion for running and couldn’t keep it to himself! I decided to sign up for the race training, and found myself being swooped up in that passion.
I couldn’t do more than a fast walk for the first 6 weeks, but week after week I’d show up: the beach, the forest, the track, the hills (oy, the hills!); I attended all the informative workshops: hydration, injury prevention, nutrition, foam rolling (oy, the foam rolling!); there were technical training shirts, games, raffles, dynamic warm-ups and static stretching, coffee at the end of the Saturday training run, and I was supported every single step of the way, by the coaches, fellow trainees, store employees, and equipment reps. By the end of the 12 week training I was able to do a walk/run, and I was ready for the greatest little road race in California, just as I was told. Fleet Feet threw a pre-race party with last minute reminders, encouragement, chocolate (Oooooo), and prizes (Yay!)
I definitely had pre-race jitters as I carefully laid out my clothes for the next morning; bib pinned to shirt, water bottle full, nutrition goo; check, check and check, just as I was taught. That next morning I ran with the biggest smile on my face the entire way, stopping only to dance to a Grateful Dead band and do the hula with the Ukulele group. Then, when I crossed the finish line that last Sunday in July, I had a mind blowing epiphany. I acutely appreciated the utter importance of my need to set a goal, work hard towards that goal, and then complete the goal (I’ve not felt anything quite like that since walking across the stage to get my college diploma.) Also, being in the presence of others with the same mind set of working toward a personal goal, giving and receiving genuine encouragement with each other… well, magic happens, friendships develop, lives change. Needless to say, I’ve been enriching my life by training with Fleet Feet Aptos ever since. I’ve been able to complete countless 5k and 10k distances, and two half marathons. I’m an example that it is possible to make a comeback after being on the couch, with non-weight bearing status for 6 weeks, with a broken foot, not once, but TWICE! I’m also very grateful to say that I’m cured of Hep C.